In this coaching relationship, the coach will act as a mentor, a facilitator of change, who works with the trailing spouse to exalt the client’s potential, to brainstorm with the client, to help the client establish a support system, to assist the client in overcoming any hurdles that present themselves along the way during this transition period. Moreover, the coach will act as a sounding board to the client, and will collaborate with the client to bring about the change that the client sees fit during this period. Some examples of these goals would be to simply find ways to start new friendships, or come up with a new routine, or help in getting accustomed to a new culture and way of living. The coach could also support the trailing spouse into establishing him/her self in this new environment, start a business, a new degree or simply get a job. One of the biggest problems that could face the trailing spouse is that feeling of helplessness, un-accomplishment, and as mentioned previously identity loss. The most difficult of the issues a trailing spouse deals with is
the loss of identity and subsequent period of reshape and remodeling that ensues in the new environment (www.expatarrivals.com).
The term ‘trailing spouse’ as one blogger put is
is not empowering. Rather, it suggests weakness: A hapless soul trailing behind their partner, an appendage rather than an autonomous person (http://compartmentsee.blogspot.com).
However, when the trailing spouse is able to gain that sense of identity, is able to gain something out of this expatriate experience, then and only then, does the trailing spouse’s mind set start to shift. Here the spouses can identify themselves as ‘trailing’ no more. Rather, the spouse becomes an equal partner and also the relationship between the partners is restored. This is so due to the fact that the ‘trailing spouse’ is no longer feeling helpless, powerless, or unknowing. The ‘trailing spouse’ has become self reliant, able to navigate her/his way in this new environment and has established an identity again. Whether this identity is the same as the one in the country of residence, or a whole new, fabulous identity in the new country of the partner’s assignment is not an issue. The most important thing is for the trailing spouse to feel empowered again and regain that sense of identity.
The concept of the trailing spouse has been around and has been used, especially in academia, since the beginning of the 1980s; however, the idea of coaching the trailing spouse is not one that is widespread. This research paper’s purpose was to focus on the trailing spouse, who is a trailing spouse, what are the difficulties or challenges that face the trailing spouse, and how can the trailing spouse over come these issues. The paper went to explore the ways in which a coach can help his/her client, who in this case is the trailing spouse to come out of this experience empowered and resourceful. In essence the trailing spouse, after overcoming these hurdles will be able to enjoy the experience of relocation, rather than it being one of hardship.
The efficacy of the coaching relationship has been proven time and time again. For a very long time, various coaching practices have been implemented in various industries especially in the business world and among world leaders. In recent years, coaching has been growing to encompass people in the public, any one wanting to move forward in their lives and make changes and achieve new heights. The same concept can be applied to the trailing spouse, to bring about the same change and to empower the person standing behind a very un- empowering phrase.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (2011), Trailing Spouse, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailing_spouse, 2011.
The Expat Info Desk (2010), Trailing Spouse Syndrome Remains AN Issue for Expats, http://www.expatinfodesk.com/news/2010/10/26/trailing-spouse-syndrome-remains-an-issue-for-expats/, October 26, 2010.
Dr.McNulty, Y. The Trailing Spouse Survey (2005), www.thetrailingspouse.com, May 2005.
Katz, S., The ‘Trailing Spouse’ No Longer Need Be Such a Drag (2012), www.expatarrivals.com , 2012.
Compartmentsee Blog, Trailing Spouse (2011), http://compartmentsee.blogspot.com/2011/09/trailing-spouse.html, September 24, 2011.